UK sanctions Russian and Iranian officials, citing human rights abuses


FILE PHOTO: British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly speaks during an interview with Reuters at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in London, Britain, November 22, 2022. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain on Friday announced sanctions against 30 people worldwide, including Russian and Iranian officials, targeting those it deems responsible for acts of torture, sexual violence, and the violent repression of street protests.

The move came a day after France announced plans for new European Union sanctions against Iran over human rights abuses in its security crackdown on popular unrest there as well as its supply of drones to Russia before Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

The British government said its sanctions were coordinated with international partners to mark International Anti-Corruption Day and Global Human Rights Day. They encompassed individuals involved in activities including the torture of prisoners and the mobilisation of troops to rape civilians.

"Today our sanctions go further to expose those behind the heinous violations of our most fundamental rights," Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement.

Those sanctioned include Russian Colonel Ramil Rakhmatulovich Ibatullin for his role as the commander of the 90th Tank Division, which has been involved in fighting since Russia's invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

The government said there have been multiple allegations made against serving members of the 90th Tank Division, including the conviction in Ukraine of a senior lieutenant on sexual abuse charges during the conflict.

Russia, which has said it is conducting a "special military operation" in Ukraine to eliminate threats to its security, has denied committing war crimes or targeting civilians.

Britain also sanctioned 10 Iranian officials connected to Iran's prison systems. This included six people linked to the Revolutionary Courts that have been responsible for prosecuting protesters with sentences including the death penalty.

Nationwide protests that erupted after the death in police custody of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16 have posed one of the biggest challenges to the Islamic Republic since its establishment in 1979.

The British government sanctioned Ali Cheharmahali and Gholamreza Ziyayi, former directors of Evin prison in Tehran, which it said was a facility notorious for the mistreatment of both Iranian and foreign detainees.

The foreign office said the sanctions against 11 countries across seven sanctions regimes were the most that Britain has ever imposed in one package.

Britain also sanctioned figures involved in Myanmar's military, which it said were involved in committing massacres, torture and rape.

Among those sanctioned by Britain were Myanmar's Office of the Chief of Military and Security Affairs, which it said had been involved in torture since last year's military coup, including rape and sexual violence.

(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill and William James, editing by Kylie MacLellan and Mark Heinrich)

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